New Text Shows Progress Of Negotiation On IP And Access At WHO 25/01/2018 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The Brazilian ambassador and others this morning at the World Health Organization Executive Board meeting were not going to let go of what seemed to be a delaying tactic by the United States and Japan to postpone agreement on the implementation of measures aimed at facilitating research and development and access to medicines. The WHO Board today is considering a set of streamlined strategic measures on public health, innovation, and intellectual property. The Board this week is considering a draft decision to take forward recommendations from an expert group that reviewed the 2008 Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA, also called GSPOA) (IPW, WHO, 24 January 2017). The Executive Board is meeting from 22-27 January. The original draft decision from the secretariat states: “(1) to take forward the recommendations of the review panel following the drawing up of a detailed implementation plan, in accordance with the review panel’s recommendations; (2) to submit a report on progress made in implementing this decision to the Seventy-third World Health Assembly in 2020, through the Executive Board.” WHO delegates, meeting in an informal drafting group today, have been working on two proposed additions to the draft decision: one from Brazil, one from Canada. In the floor discussion this morning on the topic, Brazil proposed approving the expert group recommendations that everyone agrees with, and organising a discussion around those which do not meet consensus, with a strict timeframe. Brazil was supported by a large number of Board members, such as Thailand, the Netherlands, Libya, Algeria for the African Region, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Burundi, Benin, and Bahrain. Canada, meanwhile, said it agreed with setting up a drafting group but only to make minor modifications, supported by members including France, Colombia, the Philippines, Italy, Sweden, and Japan. At press time, a new text of the draft decision, available below, from the drafting group was being circulated among member states. Draft decision from working group as of midday, 25 January Background The measures were suggested by an 18-member expert group tasked with reviewing the GSPA. The 10-year-old strategy included 108 carefully negotiated actions, which member states said were difficult to implement and to monitor. As a result little has been achieved, in particular in the area of research and development (R&D) for diseases affecting primarily developing countries, and access to medicines, according to member states and the WHO secretariat. The expert group came up with 33 recommendations [pdf] (page 20), 17 of which are high priorities. The Board was expected to agree on a draft decision [pdf], to take the recommendations of the review panel forward, after a detailed implementation plan is established. Two recommendations which were not in the original GSPA, and thus not negotiated, were added by the expert group and have been singled out by some countries. One of those recommendations relates to the transparency of the costs of research and development, and the other asks governments to dedicate 0.01 percent of their budgets to health R&D. In floor debate this morning on the agenda item (3.7), none of the 34 Board members appeared to oppose the draft decision at first, although Malta for the European Union noted the two new recommendations from the expert group, and Japan asked for time to consider the new recommendations. A number of members supported the draft decision, and Brazil and Congo, among others, stressed the urgency and importance of moving the process forward and not letting it get bogged down in bureaucratic processes. Among the non-Board members, Switzerland did not support the draft decision, because the new recommendation on IP does not reflect the consensus reached in the past. The United States did not support the draft decision either saying that the transparency on the cost of R&D is not effective, and could potentially push into abandonment the riskiest areas of research. The US requested a drafting group to revise the draft decision, and not being a Board member, asked for support, which was promptly given by Japan. Brazil Seeks to Settle Fears, and Board Erupts in Dance The Brazilian ambassador argued that industry is not at risk, reflecting on what is happening in the world regarding medicines. “Protection is not at risk,” she said. “Industry is being protected.” She said Brazil would reject any proposal to delay the approval of a decision on the GSPA. There is no question of reopening the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), she said, but just to implement all aspects of the agreement. “We are not threatening any industry, we just want a fair process,” Brazil said. After Brazil suggested that only Board members should join the drafting group, the room rustled. The meeting chair stopped the action to invite the room to a three minute session of physical exercise to calm tensions, commendably drawing giggles as WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Dr Tedros) and almost all member states joined in the fun. Except the US and Japan, who did not dance but began working on a text: Photo credit: Ellen ‘t Hoen, Medicines Law & Policy Texts The drafting group, meeting at midday, had three texts to consider going into their meeting: the original draft decision, the Canadian, and the Brazilian proposals. Canada suggested that paragraph of the draft decision reads as: (1) Recommend to draw a detailed implementation plan in consultation with member states and relevant international organisation considering the recommendations of the evaluation and the programme review (2) To submit a detailed implementation plan to the 71st World Health Assembly for member states consideration This was opposed by Brazil, who said the Canadian proposal was removing the concept of taking forward the recommendations of the expert group, taking the GSPA hostage of consultations once more. Japan agreed with the Canadian proposal. Brazil proposed an additional paragraph be added to the original draft decision, reading: “(3) With regards to recommendations x and y, engage, as appropriate, in consultation with member states, with a view to integrating them into the implementation plan,” with x and y to be defined. At press time, the issue was expected to return to the floor as soon as tonight.. The text as modified by the drafting group at midday placed the three texts into one document, showing alternatives. The Canadian proposal now reads, as (1 ALT) “to draw up a detailed implementation plan, in consultation with Member States and relevant international organizations, considering the recommendations of the evaluation and the programme review, to prioritize the review panel’s recommendations.” The Brazilian text is unchanged, as (1bis) (with regard to recommendations x and y to engage, as appropriate, in consultation with member states, with a view to integrating them into the implementation plan The Canadian proposal to have a detailed implementation plan to WHA71 (2019) for member states consideration stands as (2), and unchanged. William New contributed to this report. Image Credits: Catherine Saez Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."New Text Shows Progress Of Negotiation On IP And Access At WHO" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.